Report: New York State Amazon Facility Rejects Unionization in Blow to Wider Campaign

A union vote at an Amazon fulfillment center in Castleton, N.Y. reportedly failed by a nearly two-to-one margin, according to Reuters. Workers at the facility voted 406 to 206 against joining the Amazon Labor Union, with a turnout of more than 64%.

Most unionization efforts at Amazon warehouses in the U.S. have failed, including losses occurring in Alabama and New York. Only a single union election has been won this year, at a Staten Island location, and certification of that election is still pending approval while the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reviews Amazon’s objections to the contest. A Bayonne, N.J. facility filed for an election but withdrew the proposal before it was held.

However, unionization efforts across Amazon are not over — the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) filed a petition earlier in October to hold a vote at an Amazon warehouse in California. Additionally, the Teamsters Union has formally launched an Amazon Division dedicated to unionizing Amazon employees.

Other retailers are unionizing, albeit slowly: at Apple a second store’s election was certified on Oct. 14. Starbucks stores have unionized at a rapid pace, with approximately 200 stores joining its labor organization despite pushback from the company through methods such as offering benefits only to non-unionized store employees.


John Logan, a professor at San Francisco State University, told Reuters that the difference in unionization efforts could be due to a combination of how the campaigns are run and the types of facilities they are seeking to organize. Starbucks has national union affiliation and support from a largely progressive workforce in smaller stores, which stems from the retailer’s association with progressive values in general.

“[These retailers] support Black Lives Matter, they support LGBTQ rights and they support environmental justice,” said Logan in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Because of that they attract a particular type of workers who are attracted to those values, and these are the types of workers who support unions. It sounds overly simplistic, but in essence Starbucks has hired the kind of self-confident, independent-minded barista who has given this union campaign its dynamism.”

In comparison, Amazon fulfillment centers are far larger and have higher employee turnover. Logan told Reuters that this means “every campaign at Amazon is sort of less predictable,” though it’s possible that unions can still win in these environments.

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